Good morning. Today is Monday, February 27th.
Over the weekend, Nokia decided to change its logo again, to reinforce the fact that they are still not a telecoms company anymore, I guess. In other news, the German economy had a slow start to the year, even going as far as contracting. Today in 1971, Janis Joplin's posthumous album Pearl started its nine-week run at No.1 on the US album chart; while in ’93, Whitney Houston's ‘I Will Always Love You’ scored the spot for the longest-ever US chart-topper after 14 14 weeks at No.1 on the US singles chart.
- Let's start the week with a playlist inspired by the late rock star.
—Atilla, with Özlem and Can
Year-to-date price changes. Prices at markets’ close.
• It's PMI week, with economic growth data for EU countries sprinkled in between. However, the most notable data will be the flash HICP readings; giving us a glimpse at the Eurozone inflation.
ECB chief economist Lane to speak on “Macro-Financial Stability in the EU”; US Treasury Secretary Yellen to talk with President Zelenskiy; Eurozone economic confidence, consumer confidence; durable goods.
US Conference Board consumer confidence, wholesale inventories; Finland, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey GDP.
BOE Governor Bailey to speak at a conference focused on the cost of living crisis; Bundesbank to publish annual report; Global, Eurozone, US ISM, China Caixin manufacturing PMIs; Germany CPI, retail sales, unemployment.
ECB to publish accounts of February policy meeting; Eurozone CPI, unemployment; Italy CPI, unemployment; Spain unemployment; Hungary GDP.
US President Biden and German Chancellor Scholz to meet at the White House; Global, Eurozone, US ISM, China Caixin services PMIs; Eurozone PPI; Germany trade balance; France industrial production; Italy, Czech Republic GDP; Japan unemployment, Tokyo CPI.
• Germany’s economy shrank by 0.4% in the final three months of last year compared with the previous quarter, according to final data released by the Federal Statistics Office on Friday, as inflation and the energy crisis took their toll on household consumption and capital investment.
- Worse than expected: The contraction in Europe’s largest economy was stronger than a preliminary reading of a 0.2% quarter-on-quarter contraction adjusted for price and calendar effects, and followed a slight growth of 0.5% compared to the three months prior.
- Looking ahead… The second consecutive drop in the Ifo's current assessment component, a falling manufacturing PMI, weak consumer confidence and a willingness to spend close to historical lows, all point to a contraction of the German economy once again in the first quarter, ING's global head of macro Carsten Brzeski said.
• The rise in Spanish industrial production prices slowed considerably to 8.2% in the 12 months through January, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said on Friday, compared with a revised 14.9% increase in the 12 months through December. The increase in January was the slowest since March 2021, when it was 6.4%, after the 12-month index peaked at 47% in March 2022.
• Swedish consumer and business sentiment edged up in February, data from the NIER think tank showed on Friday, despite a drop in morale in the construction and retail sectors. Consumer confidence rose to 59.9 points from an upwardly revised 57.7 points in the previous month. The overall sentiment index rose to 85.7 points from a revised 83.3 points.
• US Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauges unexpectedly accelerated in January and consumer spending surged after consecutive declines, adding pressure on policymakers to keep ratcheting up interest rates.
- Zoom in: The personal consumption expenditures price index rose 5.4% year-on-year while the so-called core metric —which excludes volatile food and energy prices— was up 4.7%, both marking pickups after several months of declines. Consumer spending, adjusted for prices, jumped 1.1% from the prior month, the most in nearly two years.
• The Iranian Rial fell to a new record low on Sunday, plunging to 600,000 to the dollar, as savers rushed to buy foreign currency and gold amid worries about inflation running at more than 50% and the country's economic prospects after nationwide anti-government protests and the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear deal.
• The Dutch government —along with oil majors Shell and ExxonMobil— earned €429 billion from exploiting the Groningen gas field, but the geological destabilization caused by drilling at Europe’s largest natural gas reserve resulted in 1,594 earthquakes and damaged more than 85,000 buildings, a Dutch parliamentary report concluded on Friday.
- Looking ahead… Dutch authorities are under pressure from EU states to keep Groningen open after the fall in Russian gas flows. Despite this, in October the Netherlands severely capped production from Groningen and said it would end extraction there this year. A decision on whether to extend production will be taken in June.
• French defense group Thales plans to hire 12,000 new staff this year amid solid demand across its product range, CEO Patrice Caine said. He said that over the past eight years Thales, which has a total staff of 80,000 of which 40,000 in France, had recruited 5,000 to 8,000 people per year and that last year already it had hired 11,500 new employees.
- A step back: President Emmanuel Macron said in January that French military spending would increase by more than a third in coming years, with the 2024-2030 military budget set to rise to €413 billion.
• Finnish 5G equipment maker Nokia announced plans on Sunday to change its brand identity and that it has redesigned its logo to stop people from associating it with mobile phones — a business it left almost a decade ago. The brand revamp comes alongside a set of new strategic pillars intended to enable faster growth, with a focus on selling gear to other businesses.
• Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reported a record annual operating profit of $30.8 billion on Saturday despite foreign currency losses and rising interest rates that contributed to lower earnings in the final quarter of 2022. Berkshire also bulked up its cash trove, ending the year with $128.6 billion after selling about $16.3 billion of stocks in Q4.
• The EU agreed on new sanctions over Russia on Saturday, a day after the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The bloc’s Swedish presidency said, the sanctions are "directed at military and political decision-makers, companies supporting or working within the Russian military industry, and commanders in the Wagner Group. Transactions with some of Russia’s largest banks are also prohibited."
• Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on Sunday Russia conducted unsuccessful offensives near Yahidne over Saturday after Russia's Wagner mercenary group claimed to have captured the village in eastern Ukraine. The General Staff said Russia keeps concentrating its offensive efforts along the entire Bakhmut front line, where Yahidne is located.
- Background: Bakhmut has seen some of the bloodiest fighting for months in Russia’s year-old invasion, leading to only about 5,000 of 70,000 residents remaining in the city.
• The UN Human Rights Council opens on Monday for a more than five-week session as the world grapples with rights concerns including Russia’s war in Ukraine, repression of dissent in Russia and Belarus, new violence between Palestinians and Israelis, and efforts to solidify a peace deal in Ethiopia.
- Zoom in: Russia will be represented at the highest level by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov since it suspended its council membership last year, mainly because the UN was about to strip it. Iran will be represented by Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as anti-government protests continue in the country since the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.
• Thousands of people in Berlin protested to condemn Germany’s supply of arms to Ukraine and to call for peace talks to end the war. One of the organizers said that Moscow should be made an "offer" to resume peace talks. The organizers were widely criticized for downplaying Ukraine’s right to defend its territory and failing to distance themselves from pro-Russia views.
• A migrant boat crashed against rocks on the southern Italian coast on Sunday. At least 58 people died and 81 people survived the wreck on the eastern coast of Calabria, a provincial government official told Reuters. The vessel had set sail from Turkey several days ago with migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Somalia.
• The head of the UN World Food Program said he saw "apocalyptic" scenes when he visited the area in southern Turkey, hit by the Feb. 6 earthquakes. David Beasley added Syria is facing "catastrophe on top of a catastrophe" referring to the civil war and stressed the urgency of scaling up food deliveries to Syria.
• About 160,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv against the Israeli government’s plans to weaken the country’s judiciary system. The legislation would give Israel’s parliament the power to overrule Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority.
• Meta introduced a research tool called LLaMA for building artificial intelligence-based chatbots and other products, seeking to join the AI field recently dominated by rivals Google and Microsoft.
- What is it: LLaMA is a large language model, sucking up enormous volumes of digital text and using it to train software that predicts and generates content on its own when given a prompt, similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Google has its own model called LaMDA, and Microsoft is investing billions in Open AI.
• Russia’s Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft docked with the Russian-run Poisk module of the International Space Station on Saturday. The spacecraft will be the return vehicle for two cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut, who traveled to the space station in September but were unable to return to Earth after the Soyuz MS-22 capsule sprang a coolant leak in December.
• A push by India to regulate cryptocurrencies gained support from both the International Monetary Fund and the US at G20 finance chiefs of the bloc wrap up two days of talks in Bengaluru.
- Some background: India wants a collective global effort to deal with problems posed by cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin after its government has debated regulations and even bans on cryptocurrencies. On Thursday, the IMF urged countries to not give cryptocurrencies legal tender status.
🪖 A year in: Three weapons that changed the course of Ukraine’s war with Russia
🥣 Borsch without a ‘t’: Kyiv chef uses food to reclaim culture
👟 Reuters special: Dow said it was recycling our shoes. We found them at an Indonesian flea market